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Author Archives: Doug Taylor

Toronto Public Etiquette Guide by Dylan Reid

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Cover of the “Toronto Public Etiquette Guide” by Dylan Reid.

The  book, “Toronto Public Etiquette Guide,” by Dylan Reid displays an intimate knowledge of the habits and customs of Torontonians. The photo on its cover reminds me of the number of times I have seen people committing breaches of the rules in close proximity to signs asking them to refrain from such an activity. Other than smoking near “No Smoking Signs,” the most common one that I encounter is dog owners allowing their pets to urinate beside signs on lawns that state: “Please keep dogs off grass.” This behaviour is not mentioned in the book by Dylan Reid. Perhaps it will be added at a later date. However, the book is an excellent read and I thoroughly enjoyed it as it allowed me to evaluate my own habits to see if I conform to the behaviour that Torontonians expect.

During the last decade, the issue of dogs peeing on private property has become more important, particularly in the downtown area. Green spaces are under increased pressure as parking lots and empty building lots disappear and become condominium sites. Due to the shortage of land, the green spaces surrounding new condominiums are quite modest in size. Despite this, maintaining the grass in front or around the buildings is difficult. Some buildings have garden committees, with residents working to maintain the condo’s garden areas. For them, it is very frustrating to find large brown spots on the grass due to dog pee. Fortunately, most dog owners are responsible and do not allow their dogs to defecate on the grass.

I highly recommend Dylan Reid’s book. It’s fun to read and perhaps, you too, will evaluate your personal habits to see if you adhere to Toronto’s rules of etiquette when interacting with your fellow citizens. 

P.S. Dylan Reid’s book is available for a mere $15.00 at the Spacing Store, located in the building at 401 Richmond Street West.

A Toronto custom that is about to end, even though it displays excellent public etiquette. 

During the past year, I have become aware of the number of transit riders on the TTC’s King Street line who, when exiting by the front doors, express thanks to the driver. Drivers usually acknowledge with a short response. There may be other cities where this occurs, but I have never witnessed it other than in Toronto.

I observe this custom often as  I now must sit in a handicap seat at the front of the King streetcar. It is truly a pleasure to watch these brief moments of personal contact between operators and riders. However, during rush hours, due to overcrowding, saying thanks does not occur as frequently.

I also notice that the custom of expressing thanks is not as prevalent on the Queen Street line. I do not know the reason for this. As well, I do not know if this etiquette is observed on other TTC routes throughout the city.

Unfortunately, when people ride the new streetcars on lines such as Spadina, they are not able to express their thanks to the driver as he/she is inside a protected cab. I love the new streetcars, but I am saddened by the demise of the friendly custom of expressing “thanks.” However, it will remain possible to do so on the TTC buses.

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/tayloronhistory-comcheck-it-out/

Books by the Blog’s Author

Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories by the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

                          cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[1]

   To place an order for this book, published by History Press:

https://www.arcadiapublishing.com/Products/9781626194502

Book also available in most book stores such as Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox and AGO Book Shop. It can also be ordered by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb[2]    

Another book on theatres, published by Dundurn Press, is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It explores 81 theatres and contains over 125 archival photographs, with interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating histories. Note: an article on this book was published in Toronto Life Magazine, October 2016 issue.

For a link to the article published by Toronto Life Magazine: torontolife.com/…/photos-old-cinemas-dougtaylortoronto-local-movie-theatres-of-y…

The book is available at local book stores throughout Toronto or for a link to order this book: https://www.dundurn.com/books/Torontos-Local-Movie-Theatres-Yesteryear

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. It contains archival and modern photos that allow readers to compare scenes and discover how they have changed over the decades. 

Note: a review of this book was published in Spacing Magazine, October 2016. For a link to this review:

spacing.ca/toronto/2016/09/02/reading-list-toronto-then-and-now/

For further information on ordering this book, follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or contact the publisher directly by the link below:

http://www.ipgbook.com/toronto–then-and-now—products-9781910904077.php?page_id=21

 

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Terrace/container gardening (Toronto) 2017

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    The terrace during the third week of August 2017

Although this blog mainly explores Toronto’s history and heritage sites, several times I have departed from my usual topic and discussed container gardening. Because of the number of people in Toronto that live in condos and apartment buildings, I thought I would share the experiences of the summer of 2017, one of the wettest in memory. Despite the reduced sunlight hours in June and July, my terrace did remarkably well. Many plants thrive in cool weather when there is plenteous rain; even my tomatoes have produced a remarkable crop of large ripe fruit.

Many Torontonians with balconies do not bother to garden on them. This is a shame! A balcony with plants transposes an outdoor area into an extension of one’s indoor living space. A few plants, a couple of chairs and a small table change an area of concrete and glass into a place where morning coffee, a leisurely weekend lunch, or an evening meal can be enjoyed in surroundings that rival the atmosphere of a five-star restaurant—even if the food is not of the same calibre. After a few glasses of wine, you might not notice!

There are several reasons that people give for NOT gardening on a balcony. One of them is that in today’s busy world, it requires time to purchase plants and care for them. I am retired, but time is still precious, so I purchase my plants at a local fruit and vegetable store, rather than journeying to a nursery.

Another reason given for not gardening was mentioned in an article in the Globe and Mail on August 18, 2017. The reporter questioned whether or not balconies are really needed on apartment buildings and condos, as due to wind and noise, outdoor spaces are more suitable only for storage. There is some truth to this, but I find that during the long evenings of summer and on mornings on weekends, the busy pace of the city slows and it is relatively quiet. These are the times that I treasure my outdoor space the most. image

There are some that consider their balconies too small to be worth planting. I agree that with the price of land in Toronto, space is at a premium and many balconies are indeed quite tiny. However, my first apartment was a rental unit on the 24th floor, and it possessed a balcony that was only 1.5 metres deep. In choosing plants, I considered the effects of the wind as well as the amount of sunlight the area received. I created a garden in the sky with planter boxes on the railings, hanging baskets, and pots in the corners.

My first condo had a 50 square-foot terrace. I planted it to the fullest. It was also on the 24th floor, and due to the wind, I placed the hanging baskets on the balcony floor each night or on windy days. I situated the planter boxes on the inside of the railing to prevent wind damage. I loved that small balcony, and enjoyed many meals on it during the summer months. 

I am fortunate that I presently have a 200 square-foot terrace, and it is one of the main reasons I bought my apartment. This year, as I no longer have a car, beginning in late-April, I bought one or two plants each time I visited the local store where I buy my fresh produce. I kept the plants indoors and waited until the danger of frost was gone. This year (2017), it was the second week of June before I placed them outside.

I chose red and yellow begonias and yellow marigolds in an attempt to attract butterflies, though I have not been very successful. At front of the container boxes I planted sweet alyssum (white). All these plants are well suited to full sunlight, though begonias also do well in the shade. The alyssum blossoms and yellow begonias are very visible after dark, when I sit out on the terrace. This year, I have been collecting rainwater for my tomatoes. I no longer employ chemical fertilizers on them, as the rainwater provides sufficient nitrogen for growth. This provides organic fruit.  DSCN2027

Similar to the flowers, I obtained my tomato plants in late-April — 2 small nursery containers, each with four plants (total cost $4.00). Unlike the flowers, I transplanted them into 6-inch pots. I kept them indoors until mid-June. When I placed them outside into the larger pots and containers, they were 12” to 14” in height. Because they had a head-start on the season, I began harvesting fruit the last week of July.

When planting flower pots or container boxes, it is a rule of thumb to place the tallest plants at the back of a box, or in the centre of a pot. Place the smaller plants in front of them (in a box), or around the tall plants if using a pot. The trailing plants should be at the front of the box or at the edge of a pot so that they can hang down.

Several years ago I attended a seminar on container gardening at Canada Blooms. Paul Zammit, the direct of the Toronto Botanical Gardens, referred to the plants at the back of a box or in the centre of a pot as the “thrillers,” the ones beside them the “fillers,” and the ones at the front of the box or at the edge of a the pot as the “spillers.” I have found this to be an excellent guide. However, the plants in my boxes are all the same height. I do this so that the view of the city beyond the boxes is not blocked.

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Photo taken August 31, 2007. The white sweet alyssum is at the front of the box, the yellow marigolds are in the centre, and the yellow and red begonias are at the back of the box. The one red begonia at the front of the box provides contrast among the alyssum, which trails down over the side of the planter box. When sitting on the terrace, my view of the city is not blocked by the flowers.

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Due to the cool wet days of June and July, it has been one of the best years for the herb garden. I purchase basil each year, but all the others are perennials— chives, sage, tarragon, and mint. 

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       Rosemary 2016                        The same rosemary in 2017

The rosemary is in a plastic pot that has had the bottom cut out. I bury it each spring in the large planter box, allowing the roots to expand down into the soil. Each November, I remove the pot from the planter box, cut off the roots, trim the branches, and bring it inside. I have done this with this particular plant for ten years or more. It is similar to having a “bonsai” plant, as its branches have become twisted and gnarled with age. The plant remains small, making it perfect for an indoor supply of rosemary during the winter months.

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       Maple tree in 2016                The same maple tree 2017

This maple tree grew from a seed that blew onto the terrace in 2015. I transplanted it to this location and trimmed it regularly. I had intended to pull it out this past spring, but decided to keep it another year. It would have been twice as high if I had not trimmed it drastically.

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The tomatoes have been bountiful this year (2017). When the flowers appear, I use a Q-tip to cross-pollinate them. There are not sufficient bees to do the job, and the wind does not suffice. I was tired of the blossoms dropping off and no fruit appearing. Since I started using the Q-tip, almost every flower produces fruit.

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Each year the same coleus plant is the centrepiece for the coffee table. I bring it indoors each autumn, trim it, and maintain it during the winter months. I trim it severely again each spring and place it in the full sun. Coleus will also thrive in the shade, where the colours usually deepen.

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The terrace on a hot evening in August, when the yellow and white blossoms seem to illuminate the space. 

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Containers on the west side of the balcony in July 2017. There are actually three boxes, but the plants grow across them to give the appearance of one large box. Each box is 14” deep. The boxes are on a ledge that surrounds the terrace on three sides.

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                                The east side of the terrace in July 2017.

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Clematis on the divider on August 31, 2017. This is the second blooming for the season. The clematis in the photo are hardy to Zone 3, so are suitable for container gardening. Higher zones numbers do not do well unless they are in the ground, where the roots are protected from alternate freezing and thawing in winter.  

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The terrace is truly an extension of my living space during the warm months. Photo taken in August 2017. 

A link to last year’s post about container gardening:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/09/22/terracebalcony-gardening-toronto-2016/

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/tayloronhistory-comcheck-it-out/

Books by the Blog’s Author

Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories by the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

                          cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[1]

   To place an order for this book, published by History Press:

https://www.arcadiapublishing.com/Products/9781626194502

Book also available in most book stores such as Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox and AGO Book Shop. It can also be ordered by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb[2]    

Another book on theatres, published by Dundurn Press, is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It explores 81 theatres and contains over 125 archival photographs, with interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating histories. Note: an article on this book was published in Toronto Life Magazine, October 2016 issue.

For a link to the article published by Toronto Life Magazine: torontolife.com/…/photos-old-cinemas-dougtaylortoronto-local-movie-theatres-of-y…

The book is available at local book stores throughout Toronto or for a link to order this book: https://www.dundurn.com/books/Torontos-Local-Movie-Theatres-Yesteryear

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. It contains archival and modern photos that allow readers to compare scenes and discover how they have changed over the decades. 

Note: a review of this book was published in Spacing Magazine, October 2016. For a link to this review:

spacing.ca/toronto/2016/09/02/reading-list-toronto-then-and-now/

For further information on ordering this book, follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or contact the publisher directly by the link below:

http://www.ipgbook.com/toronto–then-and-now—products-9781910904077.php?page_id=21

 

 

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Toronto’s carousels of the past and present

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The Centre Island carousel (merry-go-round) at Centreville in July 1987. Photo from author’s collection.

The carousel is one of the few amusement rides that generates feelings of nostalgia and romance. In the past, Toronto has been the home to three great carousels and I have had the pleasure of riding on two of them. Carousels are usually found in amusement parks, where they create great pleasure for children and adults alike. When watching an adult help a toddler onto the back of one of the carved animals, it is difficult to determine who derives the most pleasure—the child or the adult. It is not uncommon to see an adult riding a carousel, employing the excuse that they are merely accompanying their child for safety reasons.

Perhaps this is because many of us remember our own childhood and the great joy we experienced when we rode a carousel. Most of us cannot wait to see the same pleasure bestowed on our own children or those of our friends. Despite the newer, faster and more modern rides, as well as electronic games and the internet, the carousel from Victorian times remains one of the most treasured experiences for youngsters.

Scarborough Beach Park

One of Toronto’s earliest amusement parks was Scarborough (Scarboro) Beach Park. It was located beside Lake Ontario, south of Queen Street East, between Kew and Balmy Beaches. The land was purchased in 1906 by Harry and Mabel Dorsey for about $160,000. When the park opened on July 1, 1907 it contained an array of rides, as well as a 30-metre obelisk-like tower and an extensive midway.

The park became famous for its diving horse, which jumped headlong from a 60-foot platform into Lake Ontario. Similar to today, the most popular ride for children was the carousel. However, during the years ahead, attendance dwindled due to lack of maintenance and competition from the amusement park that opened at Sunnyside in 1922. The City of Toronto purchased Scarborough Beach Park in 1925 and officially closed it in 1930. The carousel was sold to Lakeside Park at Port Dalhousie, near St. Catharines, Ontario.

Fonds 1244, Item 149    Water chute, 1908, Scarboro Fonds 1244, item 0230  20110520-SBP2[1]

(Left) The midway at Scarborough Beach Park in 1907 (Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, item 0230). (Right-hand photo) The Water Chute at the park in 1908 (Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, item 0230).

                          1900, pictures-r-5448[1]

The tower that resembled an obelisk, at Scarborough Beach Park. Photo taken in 1900, Toronto Public Library, r- 5448.

Scarboro Beach Park pictures-r-5447[1]

Scarborough Beach Park in 1900. The structure on the far left is likely the carousel. It was sold to Lakeside Park at Port Dalhousie, but not the building that housed it. Toronto Public Library, r-5447.

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After Scarborough Beach Park was demolished, the land became a residential development. The only reminder of the park’s existence is Scarborough Beach Boulevard. It extends south from Queen Street East to the lake and is on the site of the former path that led to the entrance gate of the park. 

Lakeside Park at Port Dalhousie, Ontario

I was on the carousel in this park several times in the 1940s. When I was a child, once each summer my family visited the beach at Port Dalhousie, sailing across the Lake Ontario aboard the SS Cayuga. The magnificent carousel at Port Dalhousie was carved between the years 1898 and 1905 in Brooklyn, New York. It still operates today, and has 68 animals, including horses, lions, camels, goats, and giraffes, plus four chariots.

Before the Second World War automobiles were unaffordable, so people in Toronto spent their weekends and holiday within the city or surrounding areas. It was mainly the wealthy that were able to afford to journey on the train to cottages in the Muskoka Region or Georgian Bay. During the 1930s and 1940s, each year more than a quarter million people crossed the lake in steamships to visit Port Dalhousie. The animals on the carousel are hand-carved and the horses have real horsehair tails. Today, they are maintained by the “Friends of the Carousel”, a group that repairs them when needed. All the animals are original, except for a lion carved in 2004 to replace one that was stolen in the 1970s.

Port Dalhousie, 1930  tspa_0107728f[1]

Lakeside Park at Port Dalhousie in 1930. The building near the top of the photo is likely the carousel. (Readers: please advise me if this is incorrect) Toronto Public Library, tspa 007728.

Hanlan’s Point Amusement Park

The amusement park at Hanlan’s Point was very popular during the last few decades of the 19th century and early decades of the 20th. The city’s main baseball stadium was located there, the ride across the harbour on a Toronto ferry a treasured part of the daily excursion. It was logical to add other attractions to Hanlan’s Point to lure visitors across the bay. The original wooden stadium opened in 1897, and it was at Hanlan’s that Babe Ruth hit his first home run as a professional player. After the baseball season ended in 1925, the team relocated to Maple Leaf Stadium on the mainland, at the foot of Bathurst Street.

The amusement rides alone were not able to attract sufficient people to remain financially viable. The rides were eventually sold or demolished, and by 1930, almost nothing remained. I was unable to discover what happened to the carousel.

S.S. Trillium, (Motor Coach Department) – September 1, 1927

The Trillium docked at Hanlan’s Point on September 1, 1927. The carousel is behind the ferry, near the water of the harbour. It is unknown if the carousel remained inside the structure, as they were usually sold without the buildings that housed them. Toronto Archives, Series 0071, item 5215.

Hanlan's Point, looking south, from "B," showing refreshment booth, dock entrance and merry-go-round, (Commercial Department) – August 12, 1927

On the left-hand side of the photo is the merry-go-round (carousel) at Hanlan’s Point on August 12, 1927. The ticket booth is also visible. Behind the carousel is a refreshment stand. Toronto Archives, Series 0071, item 5157.

Sunnyside Beach and Amusement Park

Sunnyside Beach Amusement Park was officially opened by Mayor Mcguire on June 28, 1922. At the time the park had not been completed, but a few of the rides and the Bathing Pavilion were ready for visitors. After its official opening, thousands strolled along the boardwalk at Sunnyside, swam in the waters of the lake, or dived into the new swimming pool.

During the next few years, the amusement park was completed. Included among the rides was a carousel, the one that provided me with my first ride aboard one. Other popular features at Sunnyside were the concession stands, dance pavilion, and an open-air theatre called the Band Stand. The annual Easter Parade was held on the boardwalk at Sunnyside, as well as the Miss Toronto beauty contests and women’s softball games. The Sunnyside rollercoaster, named the Flyer, was a wooden structure. I rode it many times in the 1950s and can still recall how the cars swayed from side to side as they descended from the highest section of track. This added greatly to the sense of danger. Being a teenager at the time, I loved it.

The golden era of Sunnyside was from the 1920s until the early-1950s. As automobiles became more affordable, families began journeying north of the city to escape the heat and humidity of a Toronto summer. The lakes of Muskoka and the beaches of Georgian Bay were the most popular.

In 1955, the Toronto Harbour Commission ordered the demolition of Sunnyside. By the end of 1956, the summer retreat that previous generations had known and loved was but a memory. The land is now beneath the Gardiner Expressway and the widened Lakeshore Boulevard. The beloved carousel of my youth was sold to Disneyland in Anaheim California, where it remains today. It is now called the King Arthur Carousel.

We lost this great carousel, and it appears as if we shall also lose the one at Centreville on Centre Island too.

Sunnyside_Boardwalk_Toronto_1931[1]

View looking west along the the Lakeshore Road c. 1925. To the left (south) of the boardwalk is Lake Ontario (not visible in the view on the postcard). The large structure with the domed red roof is the merry-go-round.

1945-sc139-2-box-148489[1]

The Sunnyside merry-go round (carousel) in 1945. Toronto Archives, SC 139-2 box 148489.

Other carousels now found within the GTA.

tspa_0014659f Tor. Star, 1985  [1]  From Woodside Amusement Pk,  photo by Smallbones  800px-Carousel_longshot_Philly[1]

Carousel at Woodbine Centre at Highway 27 and Rexdale Boulevard. Photo on left, Toronto Archives, tspa 0014659f. Photo on right by Smallbones.

View of carousel and surrounding flower beds at Canada's Wonderland – June 8, 1981

The carousel at Canada’s Wonderland in Vaughan at Highway #400 and  Rutherford Road. Photo was taken in 1981 and is from Toronto Archives, F 1526, file98, item 5.

Series 1465, File 362, Item 23

Children’s carousel at the CNE in the 1980s. This ride resides in Toronto only when the CNE is open. Toronto Archives, S 1465, Fl 0362, item 0023.

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                     Carousel at the CNE in 1995. Author’s collection.

Note: I have not mentioned the carousel on Centre Island. The following link will allow readers to discover its fate:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2017/08/19/rescue-torontos-antique-carousel-at-centreville/

Note: Sources employed for this post include: cec.chebucto.org/ClosPark/ScarBech.html

and www.blogto.com/city/2011/05/nostalgia_tripping_scarboro_beach_park 

and https://www.stcatharines.ca/en/experiencein/LakesideParkCarousel.asp 

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2017/08/19/rescue-torontos-antique-carousel-at-centreville/

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

To explore more memories of Toronto’s past:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/tayloronhistory-comcheck-it-out/

Books by the author:

Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories by the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

                          cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852

   To place an order for this book, published by History Press:

https://www.arcadiapublishing.com/Products/9781626194502

Book also available in most book stores such as Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox and AGO Book Shop. It can also be ordered by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb    

Another book on theatres, published by Dundurn Press, is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It explores 81 theatres and contains over 125 archival photographs, with interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating histories. Note: an article on this book was published in Toronto Life Magazine, October 2016 issue.

For a link to the article published by Toronto Life Magazine: torontolife.com/…/photos-old-cinemas-dougtaylortoronto-local-movie-theatres-of-y…

The book is available at local book stores throughout Toronto or for a link to order this book: https://www.dundurn.com/books/Torontos-Local-Movie-Theatres-Yesteryear

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. It contains archival and modern photos that allow readers to compare scenes and discover how they have changed over the decades. 

Note: a review of this book was published in Spacing Magazine, October 2016. For a link to this review:

spacing.ca/toronto/2016/09/02/reading-list-toronto-then-and-now/

For further information on ordering this book, follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or contact the publisher directly by the link below:

http://www.ipgbook.com/toronto–then-and-now—products-9781910904077.php?page_id=21

 

 

 

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RESCUE Toronto’s antique carousel at Centreville

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Carousel at Centreville at Centre Island—photo by Fatima Syed, Toronto Star, August 5, 2017.

Centre Island’s antique carousel is being sold for $3 million ($2.25 U.S.) to a suburb of Carmel, Indiana, where it will become the focal point of a rapidly expanding business district. The sale has generated much publicity in Toronto’s press and on social media, accompanied by an outpouring of memories from those who consider the amusement ride a cherished part of their childhood. Many have expressed the sentiment that when they were young, a Toronto summer was not complete unless there was at least one trip to the Toronto Islands, a ride on the carousel the highlight of the day.

However, I have not read of any attempts to raise funds to rescue the carousel from its fate. I do not know if it is even possible at this late date, as it is scheduled to be dismantled and shipped to the U.S. after Centreville closes for the 2017 season. This will be a loss for all of Canada, as following its departure only eight antique carousels will exist in the country. Part of our heritage is slipping away. Future generations might never forgive us for our lack of foresight.

The carousel at Centreville on Centre Island was purchased by Beasley Amusements in 1964, from Bushkill Park in Pennsylvania. The price was about $20,000. It arrived in Toronto in 1965 and was installed in the children’s village of Centreville. The grand opening was in 1967, the Centennial of Canadian Confederation. The carousel was the jewel in the crown of the entertainment rides at Centreville. For many years, its carved animals were maintained by Al Cochrane, a gifted carver.

Built in 1907 by G. A. Dentzel Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the children’s ride possesses 52 hand-carved animals, each one a unique creation. There are majestic horses that gallop faster and faster as they strain to escape the revolving wooden platform that contains them. There are wild beasts as well as animals found on a farm.

My first experience with a carousel occurred when I was four years old. The sight of it was intimidating as the animals looked real. There was a ferocious lion with jaws containing razor-sharp teeth and a bottomless blood-red throat. It stared at me as if it were deciding if it should pounce and devour me in a single gulp.

After my father paid the fare, I worked up the courage and nervously climbed aboard a horse that I was certain was 20 feet tall. I earnestly prayed that the carousel’s carnival-like music would obscure the thumping of my heart. Once I was settled in on the horse’s back, I felt safer, but held onto the pole atop the horse so tightly that if it had been a penny, the Queen’s nose would have bled. I continued to avoid looking at the lion as it reminded me of the one from my nightmares. It lived at the bottom of the cellar stairs in our house. Somehow, it had found me on the carousel.

As well as the horses and the lion, there were imaginary creatures such as a unicorn. I admired the long-necked ostriches and the barnyard animals such as roosters and pigs, but having conquered my fears to climb on the horse’s back, I considered them tame. As for the benches that seated two adults, they were for “old pussies,” as Agatha Christie referred to elderly women. Older men usually watched from the sidelines, exhibiting strange smiles and faraway looks. I was too young to realize that they were likely recalling their boyhood days when they too had struggled to conquer a carousel’s lions and horses.   

                                                      * * *

I now must confess that I have never been on the carousel on Centre Island. There were no amusement rides on Centre Island when I was a boy in the 1940s. There was a village, but it was demolished in the 1960s. There had been an amusement park on Hanlan’s Point, but it closed in the 1930s.

My first experience on a carousel was at Sunnyside Amusement Park, which was demolished to build the Gardiner Expressway. Actually, when I was a boy, I had never heard of a “carousel.” The word is from the French (carrousel) or the Italian (Carosell) and was employed by Americans to refer to carved animals that rotate on a wooden platform. In Canada, we referred to it as a “merry-go-round.” Similarly, on Halloween we never went “trick or treating.” We ventured into the darkened streets on the last night in October to go “shelling out.” We would chorus gleefully at each door, “Shell out! Shell out” We’ll break your windows inside out.” Our Canadian vocabulary remained untainted until the mid-1950s with the advent of television and the flood of American programming.  

The merry-go-round at Sunnyside was the highlight of my family’s summer trips to “The Poor Man’s Riviera,” as Sunnyside was known. As soon as we arrived, my brother and I and commenced building sandcastles on the beach along the shoreline of Lake Ontario. We imagined mediaeval knights riding their horses over the twig drawbridges that crossed the moats we filled with water from our pails. My mother had acquired the pails when she purchased quart-size containers of peanut butter, which were packaged in children’s sand pails. We had consumed enough peanut butter during the winter months to dry out our mouths so that they felt like part of the Sahara Dessert. As a reward, we now had two free pails, complete with handles and accompanied by toy sand shovels. When it was lunchtime, we hungrily wolfed down salmon sandwiches, not stopping our great construction projects to properly pay attention to our meal. Thus, though our sandwiches were garnished with yellow mustard, they were liberally sprinkled with sand.

However, our excitement increased as the afternoon shadows lengthened, as we knew that a ride on the merry-go-round was imminent. My brother was two years older than me, so when we arrived at the site of the merry-go-round, he chose the most dangerous looking carved horse he could find. I settled for a steed that might have crossed our twig drawbridges over the moats of our sandcastles at a more sedate pace. The merry-go-round ride was glorious, though far too short. When it ended, as we walked away, we both gazed back a few times, lamenting that the climax of our summer day-trip was spent. However, we were consoled by the tall bags of salty popcorn that my dad bought, pleased that the horses from the merry-go-round did not expect a share of our treat.

Everyone has treasured memories from their childhood, and for many, a merry-go-round or carousel ride is among them. It is a pity that future generations of toddlers will never ride an antique carousel in Toronto, the same one that their parents might have ridden. Beasley Amusements at Centreville intends to replace the 1907 carousel with a modern version, but the youngsters will never have the chance to share a tangible part of the childhood of their parents. It is only when we are older that we realize that allowing the destruction of landmarks and traditions of the past cheats us of the contentment derived from watching our children and grandchildren enjoying an activity or site that we too enjoyed. Sharing generational memories creates links that draw families together. This is what family and community are all about.

Our heritage should not be sold to recoup the losses of a financial disaster caused by the spring floods of 2017. The carousel at Centre Island should remain in Canada.  

Let’s start a new Toronto Tradition

Rescue the carousel from being sold and install it in the Eaton Centre. At the yuletide season, parents could take their toddlers to the Centre to see Santa Claus, ride on an antique carousel, and view the Christmas windows of the Bay.

DSCN2096

                              The carousel at Centre Island in July 1987.     

              800px-Lead_Horse_Carousel_Dentzel Phil.  [1]

The lead horse on the Dentzel carousel in Woodside Amusement Park in Philadelphia. Photo from Wikipedia.

Note: This post was inspired by an article and photo by Fatima Syed published in the Toronto Star on July 19, 2017.

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

To explore more memories of Toronto’s past:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/tayloronhistory-comcheck-it-out/

Books by the author:

Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories by the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

                          cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[2]

   To place an order for this book, published by History Press:

https://www.arcadiapublishing.com/Products/9781626194502

Book also available in most book stores such as Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox and AGO Book Shop. It can also be ordered by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb[1]    

Another book on theatres, published by Dundurn Press, is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It explores 81 theatres and contains over 125 archival photographs, with interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating histories. Note: an article on this book was published in Toronto Life Magazine, October 2016 issue.

For a link to the article published by Toronto Life Magazine: torontolife.com/…/photos-old-cinemas-dougtaylortoronto-local-movie-theatres-of-y…

The book is available at local book stores throughout Toronto or for a link to order this book: https://www.dundurn.com/books/Torontos-Local-Movie-Theatres-Yesteryear

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. It contains archival and modern photos that allow readers to compare scenes and discover how they have changed over the decades. 

Note: a review of this book was published in Spacing Magazine, October 2016. For a link to this review:

spacing.ca/toronto/2016/09/02/reading-list-toronto-then-and-now/

For further information on ordering this book, follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or contact the publisher directly by the link below:

http://www.ipgbook.com/toronto–then-and-now—products-9781910904077.php?page_id=21

 

Tags: , , ,

Scadding Cabin—Toronto’s oldest surviving structure

             DSCN1898

Scadding Cabin, built in 1794, now located on the CNE grounds. Photo taken in May 2017.

My first memories of Scadding Cabin date from the 1950s, when I was a teenager visiting the CNE. I had always been fascinated by history and was amazed to discover that the white-washed log structure dated from 1794. At that time, Toronto was a frontier settlement of about a dozen log cabins, clustered around the eastern end of the harbour. The small garrison to the west of the town generated some economic activity, but most of it was created by fur traders that employed the Humber River as a trade route to travel to the Upper Great Lakes.

When Upper Canada’s first Lieutenant Governor arrived in York’s harbour on the morning of July 29, 1793 aboard the HMS Mississauga, the sleepy settlement was thrust into sudden importance. Simcoe declared henceforth it was to be the capital of the colony. He changed its name from Toronto to York on August 26, 1793 as he preferred English names to those of the First Nations. John Scadding’s Cabin is the only surviving structure from this period in Toronto’s history, when log cabins were the only dwellings that existed.

John Scadding (1754-1824) had been the manager of Simcoe’s estate in Devon, England. In 1792, when Simcoe was appointed Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada (Ontario), Scadding joined him. Simcoe employed him as an assistant and granted him 250 acres of crown land, located on the east side of the Don River. The property extended from the shoreline of the Lake as far north as the first concession line (Danforth Road). Its east-west boundaries were the Don River and the Mill Road (Broadview Avenue).

In 1792, in fulfilment of his “Settlement Duties, Scadding built a modest cabin and barn, employing square-timbered logs of white pine, fitted with dove-tailed corners. The trees were hewn from his own property. The cabin consisted of a single low-ceilinged room, with space above it for sleeping quarters. This “loft” configuration was typical of many dwellings built in York in the last decade of the 19th century. Near the south side of the cabin was the road that led to Kingston. On its west side was a bridge that crossed the Don River. It gave access to the town of York and was known locally as, “Scadding Bridge.”

However, some historical records state that Simcoe ordered the Queen’s Rangers to construct the cabin, explaining why it was later referred to as “Simcoe Cabin.” Today, its location is where Queen Street East crosses over the Don Valley Parkway. The cabin was close to the river, which in the early years was teeming with fish, particularly salmon. The river was also a popular route for travelling to the town to purchase supplies and sell farm produce. Scadding’s first cabin was destroyed by fire in 1793. Fires were a common occurrence in these days because of open fireplaces with chimneys that lacked chimney-pots atop them. John Scadding erected another cabin the following year.

Scadding returned with Simcoe to England in 1796, leaving the cabin under the care of a neighbour, George Playter, who lived in it along with his son. When Scadding returned to Upper Canada (Ontario) in 1818, he was married and had three sons. Requiring a larger residence, he sold the cabin to William Smith who employed it as a shed and small barn. Scadding erected a new home, barn and stables to the north, near what is today Gerrard Street. The abode was surrounded by orchards and cultivated fields of hay, rye, barley, and oats. In 1824, Scadding was injured by a falling tree and died shortly after, his sons continuing to operate the farm.

As the 19th century progressed, the land to the east of the Don River was opened to further development. The land surrounding the cabin was to be subdivided and the cabin was in the way. In 1879, rather than demolish the cabin, Smith offered it to the York Pioneers free of charge, with the understanding that it would be relocated.

The York Pioneers had been formed in 1869, by a small group of men intent on preserving York County’s early-day history. Its members were all pioneers who had been living in York County prior to March 1834, when Toronto was incorporated as a city. The men clearly remembered the town of York when it was a mere village, important only as a seat of government. By the 1870s, Toronto was a bustling industrial and commercial centre.

The relocation project was an ambitious endeavour that entailed considerable labour. The cabin was painstakingly dismantled, and on August 22, 1879, members of the York Pioneers met at Rennie’s Seed Store on Adelaide Street and journeyed westward in a cart along King Street. In the cart, pulled by a team of oxen, were the disassembled pieces of the cabin. They were on their way to today’s Exhibition Park, where they would re-erect it, using the tools and techniques of the past. It was the city’s first act of architectural conservation. The year 1879 was the inauguration of the Industrial Exhibition (later renamed the Canadian National Exhibition), and the cabin was to be a part it. The site where the cabin was to be reconstructed was to the west of where in the years ahead, the CNE Band Shell would be built.

In 1901, the name of the cabin was changed from Simcoe Cabin to Scadding Cabin, to honour Henry Scadding, the youngest son of John Scadding. Henry was the author of the book, “Toronto of Old,” published in 1873. He is recognized as the city’s first historian. He was the president and a founding member of the York Pioneer Society. As late as the 1950s, the cabin was white-washed, but today it possesses the natural colour of the white-pine logs. It is furnished as a typical settler’s first house, with artefacts dating from the 1790s to the 1850s.

Sources:

torontoist.com/2010/08/historicist_building_a_history/

www.yorkpineers.org/cabin.html

www. torontoplaques.com/pages/scadding_cabin.hmtl

1793, Eliz. Simcoe, Ont. Archives  6959-1020[1]

Sketch drawn by Elizabeth Simcoe in 1793, depicting Scadding’s first cabin and a small barn. Scadding Bridge is on the west (left-hand) side of the two log structures. Toronto Public Library, r-1516.

Scadding's 2nd cabin, north of Gerrard. Rob's Book, DSCN2009 - Copy

John Scadding’s second home on the east bank of the Don River, built around the year 1819. The lean-to on the right-hand side was constructed of planks from Castle Frank. They had been floated on rafts down the Don River. Sketch is from John Ross Robertson’s book, “Landmarks of Toronto,” Volume I, page 195. 

c. 1880s, CNE Scadding-Cabin 001[1]

The Cabin (on the left) in the 1880s, prior to its name being changed from Simcoe Cabin to Scadding Cabin in 1901.

Scadding Cabin in 1890, when it was on the CNE grounds. Ontario Archives, 10001932.

Fonds 1244, Item 272A

A gathering at Scadding Cabin on the occasion of the opening of the CNE in 1907. Toronto Public Library, Fl 1244, item 0272.

image

Scadding Cabin in 1928. Toronto Archives, Fonds 16, Series 71, Item 6099.

Side view of Scadding Cabin – August 20, 1972

Scadding Cabin in August 1972. Toronto Archives, F 1526, Fl 0094, item 0075.

image

The north (right-hand) and east (left-hand) sides of the Cabin in May 2017.

image  image

                Views of the cabin’s interior with its stone fireplace.

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The northwest corner of the all-purpose room on the first-floor level of Scadding Cabin. An engraving of Simcoe is on the west wall.

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The narrow stairs that led to the sleeping quarters in the cabin’s loft. The ceiling is very low compared to those of today.

                                 DSCN1900

The doorway of Scadding Cabin decorated to welcome visitors during “Doors Open Toronto” in May 2017. 

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/tayloronhistory-comcheck-it-out/

Books by the Blog’s Author

Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories by the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

                          cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852

   To place an order for this book, published by History Press:

https://www.arcadiapublishing.com/Products/9781626194502

Book also available in most book stores such as Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox and AGO Book Shop. It can also be ordered by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb    

Another book on theatres, published by Dundurn Press, is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It explores 81 theatres and contains over 125 archival photographs, with interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating histories. Note: an article on this book was published in Toronto Life Magazine, October 2016 issue.

For a link to the article published by Toronto Life Magazine: torontolife.com/…/photos-old-cinemas-dougtaylortoronto-local-movie-theatres-of-y…

The book is available at local book stores throughout Toronto or for a link to order this book: https://www.dundurn.com/books/Torontos-Local-Movie-Theatres-Yesteryear

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. It contains archival and modern photos that allow readers to compare scenes and discover how they have changed over the decades. 

Note: a review of this book was published in Spacing Magazine, October 2016. For a link to this review:

spacing.ca/toronto/2016/09/02/reading-list-toronto-then-and-now/

For further information on ordering this book, follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or contact the publisher directly by the link below:

http://www.ipgbook.com/toronto–then-and-now—products-9781910904077.php?page_id=21

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: , , , ,

Toronto’s historic Guild Inn Estate

   DSCN1985

                    The Guild Inn Estate (photo June 14, 2017)

In past decades, those of us who were born and raised west of Yonge Street were usually unfamiliar with the city to the east of it. Likewise, those born east of the city’s main street often were unfamiliar the area west of Yonge. This was because the intersection of Queen and Yonge was the retail heart of the city, as the two largest department stores were located there—Eaton’s and Simpsons. As well, most of the other important shops were either on Yonge Street or located close to it. To travel to the opposite side of Yonge was rarely necessary.

Until I was an adult in the early 1960s, I never knew anyone who had visited Scarborough’s Guild Inn. I never visited the historic property until June 14, 2017, on the occasion of its grand reopening, following a complete restoration and the addition of a new building with expanded facilities.

Located at 201 Guildwood Parkway, the original house on the property was built in 1914 in the Period Revival style, with Arts and Crafts Detailing. This style was popular during and after the First World War. It reflected elements of medieval architecture and possessed Tudor detailing. However, because of its straight lines and unadorned stucco cladding with wood trim, the house was sometimes referred to as being faux-Georgian. Constructed by Colonel Harold Bickford to serve as his family summer residence, it possessed stables and a large garage for his automobiles.

Colonel Bickford was born in “Gore Vale,” located in what is now Trinity Bellwoods Park. He was a decorated veteran who served in the Boer and First World Wars. Having acquired considerable financial success as a real estate broker, he purchased property on the edge of the Scarborough Bluffs. On the land, he built a 33-bedroom residence and named it Bickford House. In that decade, the estate was densely forested and remote from the city. On the south side of the home was a terrace with steps that led down to an extensive garden. At southern end of the property was the Scarborough Bluffs, and below the steep cliffs was Lake Ontario.

However, due to financial constraints, in 1921 Bickford sold his home and property to the Foreign Missionary Society of the Roman Catholic Church. It served as a boarding school for students of the China Mission College, which sent missionaries to China. In 1923, the house again changed hands when it was bought by an American businessman, Richard V. Look. He renamed it Cliff Acres because of its proximity to the Scarborough Bluffs. However, he vacated the house and relocated to Montreal after living in it for only a year.

The house remained vacant for five years, after which it was purchased by Rosa H. Hewstson. She was a wealthy widow whose husband had owned a shoe company. In August 1932, she married Spencer Clark, the ceremony held on the property. Soon after the honeymoon, the couple converted their multi-bedroom home into an hotel. Next, they built the Estate Building from two former structures on the property and established the Guild of All Arts to create an artists’ colony. The Clarks were inspired by Roycroft in East Aurora, New York, a center for the Arts and Crafts movement. The Estate Building and former stables provided accommodations for the artists as well as workshops. The estate offered training for aspiring artists and a wide variety of crafts—weaving, wood working, wrought iron, ceramics, leather tooling and batik. The proceeds from their work as well as the funds from the hotel business helped defray the expenses of operating the program.

In 1932, the Clarks transferred the title to the Scarborough Guild Ltd., and the following year the Kitchen Wing was constructed. In 1933, they offered a paid membership program that included entry to the scenic grounds as well as a series of lectures and concerts.

1944, when nerve shattered veterns tspa_0108031f[1] During World War II, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs requisitioned the Guild Inn and renamed it HMSC Bytown II. It became a centre where WRENS received specialized training in operating a wireless. Between 1944 and 1947, it was renamed Scarborough Hall and became a veterans’ hospital. In 1947, the estate was returned to the Clarks. They now enlarged the buildings and purchased a further 500 acres to increase the size of the estate. Their property eventually extended from Lake Ontario to Kingston Road and from Livingston Road to Galloway Road.

Near the end of the 1950s, the Clark family and Lakeview Estates Limited transferred part of the land to Higgins Company Limited, and registered the plan to create the Guildwood Village. It consisted of about 400 acres and today, the community is still referred to as “Guildwood Village.” It was a small version of the Don Mills subdivision, reflecting the best ideas of urban planning of its day.

It was during the 1950s that Spencer Clark commenced salvaging architectural remnants from important 19th and early 20th century buildings that Toronto was demolishing. They were placed in their garden, and today these relicts from the past are a much-loved part of the Guild Inn Estate. As well, Rosa and Spencer Clark commissioned artworks from notable Canadian sculptors and installed them on the Inn’s grounds. It became Canada’s first sculpture garden.

In 1965, a 100-room hotel tower was built to the east of the house. In 1978, the Metro Toronto Regional Conservation Authority acquired the Guild Estate for $8 million. However, Spencer Clark continued to operate the Inn.

Rosa Clark passed away in 1981, but Spencer continued to manage the Inn. In 1982, on the 50th anniversary of the Guild Inn, the Greek Theatre was opened, its backdrop the columns salvaged from the Bank of Toronto (built in 1912).

In 1985, Delta Hotels assumed management of the Inn. Spencer Clark died the following year. In 1988, the Giant Step Reality Corporation was granted a 99-year lease for the Inn, but it was terminated in 1993 when the Metropolitan Toronto and Regional Conservation Authority took over the site. However, the Authority’s main interest was the bluffs and the shoreline. Unfortunately, Guild Inn Hotel was closed. In 1999, it became a Heritage Property under the Ontario Heritage Act.

In 2001, the Inn was boarded up. However the grounds and sculpture garden remained open and were maintained by City of Toronto. In 2008, the Studio Building, following a fire, was demolished and in 2009, the hotel tower to the east of the Inn was demolished. Meanwhile, the remainder of the buildings began to badly deteriorate. In 2011, the Heritage Canada Foundation stated that the place was “in imminent danger of demolition by neglect.” The floors inside the Bickford residence were rotting to the extent that it was unsafe to walk on them. In 2009, a proposal by Centennial College was approved by the city. Then, in 2011 the College submitted a proposal that included condominiums. This plan was rejected.

DSCN1963In 2014, Dynamic Hospitality and Entertainment Group, an 100% Canadian owned company, was chosen to restore the estate. During the restoration, asbestos-filled additions in the original 1914 Bickford House were removed and on its west side, a new banquet hall and gazebo were constructed. The Bickford House, which had endeared the Inn to past generations, was painstakingly refurbished—the staircases, wainscotting and fireplaces. However, the latter were no longer functional.

When restoration of the Inn and surrounding property had been completed, it included an 88-acre park. In the original Bickford residence there were private suites and a restaurant able to accommodate 800 guests. Appropriately named Bickford Bistro, guests can now enjoy a midday lunch or an intimate evening dinner. There are 292 free parking spots on-site. As well, the complex possesses an events space able to host 1000 guest. Both the Bickford Bistro and the events space have terraces that overlook the spacious gardens.

With the reopening of the Guild Estates, I now have another reason to travel east of Yonge Street and become more familiar with Scarborough. It is always a pleasure to dine and then stroll around the grounds of a place that includes so much of the history of our city. 

Sources of information:

https://www.thestar.com/…/scarboroughs-long-neglected-guild-inn-reopens-its-histori

heritagetoronto.org/the-guild-inn

www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2014/pb/bgrd/backgroundfile

Booklet prepared by the Siren Group for the official reopening of the Inn on June 14, 2017.

1944, when nerve shattered veterns tspa_0108031f[1] 

The Guild Inn in 1944, when it was a veterans’ hospital named Scarborough Hall. Photo from the Toronto Public Library (tspa 0108031).

 1956.  pictures-r-6431[2]

The Guild Inn Inn in 1956 when it was managed by Spencer Clark. Toronto Public Library, r- 6531.

1971,  tspa_0108025f[1] 

View of the south side of the Inn in 1971, gazing north from the garden. On the right is the hotel to the east of the Bickford home. Toronto Public Library, tspa 0108025.

1978, Bank of Montreal. demo 1973   tspa_0108026f[1]

An architectural remnant from the demolished Bank of Montreal being placed in the garden in 1978. Toronto Public Library –tspa 0108026 (Toronto Star Collection)

                             1985, Toronto Star biilding demo 1972 tspa_0108022f[2]

Architectural detailing from the Art Deco Toronto Star building, demolished in 1972. Photo taken in 1985, Toronto Public Library, tspa 0108022 (Toronto Star Collection). 

                           1986  tspa_0108030f Banks Bond Blg, demol. 1973 [1]

Columns from the Bankers Bond Building, erected at 60 King Street West in 1920. Demolished in 1973, it was inspired by the Erechtheum, part of the gateway to the Acropolis of ancient Athens. Photo taken in 1986, Toronto Public Library, tspa 0108030 (Toronto Star Collection).

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The entrance to the complex on its north side, on the occasion of the grand opening on June 14, 2017.

image

The events space capable of hosting 1000 guests. For smaller events, it can be sub-divided into three separate rooms. (Photo taken June 14, 2017 during the grand reopening)

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         The original 1914-home that today contains the Bickford Bistro.

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One of the fireplaces in the Bickford home and a charming sculpture on its mantle.

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                Staircase in the Bickford home, leading to the second floor.

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View of the garden, gazing out through the windows of the passageway that connects the Bickford home to the new addition.

image

     Gazing south over the sculpture garden from the terrace of the Bickford home.

                                  DSCN1974

A doorway in the sculpture garden, rescued from the Bank of Nova Scotia at 39 King Street West, built in 1903 and demolished in 1969 (photo 2017).

1981, Spencer Clark  tspa_0038428f[1]

Spencer Clark in the sculpture garden in 1981, the Corinthian columns from the Bank of Toronto in the background.

DSCN1983

The columns from the Bank of Toronto, photographed in June 2017. Today, the salvaged architectural remnants create the backdrop for the Greek Theatre, which opened in 1982. The bank once stood on the southwest corner of King and Bay Streets.

image

The Greek stage being checked out by Jamie Robinson, director of “She Stoops to Conquer.” The play is being performed from July 13th to August 13th, 2017. The audience watching this classic romantic comedy will be seated on the spacious grass area in front of the stage. 

DSCN1984

     View of the Guild Inn Estate from the sculpture garden in June 2017.

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/tayloronhistory-comcheck-it-out/

Books by the Blog’s Author

Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories by the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

                          cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[2]

   To place an order for this book, published by History Press:

https://www.arcadiapublishing.com/Products/9781626194502

Book also available in most book stores such as Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox and AGO Book Shop. It can also be ordered by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb[1]    

Another book on theatres, published by Dundurn Press, is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It explores 81 theatres and contains over 125 archival photographs, with interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating histories. Note: an article on this book was published in Toronto Life Magazine, October 2016 issue.

For a link to the article published by Toronto Life Magazine: torontolife.com/…/photos-old-cinemas-dougtaylortoronto-local-movie-theatres-of-y…

The book is available at local book stores throughout Toronto or for a link to order this book: https://www.dundurn.com/books/Torontos-Local-Movie-Theatres-Yesteryear

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. It contains archival and modern photos that allow readers to compare scenes and discover how they have changed over the decades. 

Note: a review of this book was published in Spacing Magazine, October 2016. For a link to this review:

spacing.ca/toronto/2016/09/02/reading-list-toronto-then-and-now/

For further information on ordering this book, follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or contact the publisher directly by the link below:

http://www.ipgbook.com/toronto–then-and-now—products-9781910904077.php?page_id=21

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Flooding on Toronto Islands in 2017

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Flooding surrounding a home on Ward’s Island during the spring of 2017. Photo from the Toronto Star, June 3, 2017, accompanying an article by Peter Goffin.

The disastrous flooding of the Toronto Islands during the spring of 2017 has allowed people to realize the importance of the Islands to summer life in the city. Very few urban areas throughout the world possess an idyllic retreat so close to their downtown core. New York has Central Park and Vancouver has Stanley Park, but neither of these resemble the Toronto Islands. Rio de Janeiro has its world-famous beaches, far superior to those on the Islands, but Toronto’s stretches of golden sand appear to satisfy most sun-bathers.

I believe that Toronto’s parkland in the Lake is unique because of its lagoons. They remain virtually unchanged since York’s early-day setters first discovered them in the 1790s. Perhaps this is why a person is able to sense the quieter days of yesteryear when strolling beside their tree-lined banks. It is easy to conjure up images of the picnickers who arrived in the 19th century by flat-bottomed boats powered by horses on treadmills, or envision the ghosts of those who arrived on small vessels propelled by coal-fired steam engines.

The ancient willow trees, stretching their leafy branches to touch the ground, and the wide verdant spaces with the coveted picnic tables remind me of the days of my childhood in the 1940s. My family often arrived on Centre Island on the side-paddled ferry, the Trillium. Because of these memories, today, each summer I journey on at least one pilgrimage to the Islands to reflect upon the days of my youth and enjoy the features added during the previous few decades, especially the gardens.

On these occasions, I purchase a bag of popcorn in Centreville from a small red cart, and suddenly I am an eight-year-old experiencing the wonders of the Islands for the first time. Strolling the down the Avenue of the Islands, across Long Pond on the Venetian-style bridge and wandering south toward the Lake, popcorn in hand, is as close as I am able to get to repeating a childhood ritual. It appears likely that this simple pleasure will be denied me this year, although there remains hope that the Islands will reopen in August.

It seems that I am not alone in lamenting the loss of the Islands this summer (2017). I thoroughly enjoyed Edward Keenan’s article in the Toronto Star on June 3, 2017. For anyone who missed this exceptional piece of writing, it is worth reading it online. Mr. Keenan wrote about the importance of the Islands to the summer season in the city, and shared his present-day thoughts and memories of visiting them. On Tuesday June 6, 2017 he wrote another article in which he asked the unthinkable question—What if the flooding on the Islands is not simply a rare occurrence? but a harbinger of the future, due to climate warming. Mr. Keenan also posed the discomforting question, are we willing to pay to maintain these unique parklands? 

The following information is an edited version of a post that I wrote on March 1, 2016, about my childhood memories of the Islands.

Memories of Centre Island during the 1940s

When I was a young boy in the 1940s, visiting Centre Island was high adventure. It was during the war years, and holidaying within the city was the only possibility open to most people. Gasoline and car tires were rationed, and automobiles were unaffordable. Besides, cars were not being manufactured due to the war effort. The most popular summer destinations were Centre Island, Sunnyside, and in mid-August, the CNE. The CNE is now greatly reduced in size and Sunnyside Amusement Park was demolished to construct the Gardiner Expressway. Sadly, the village on Centre Island, which I knew as a boy, has also disappeared.

For my family, a day-trip to Centre Island always began when my family boarded a Bay Streetcar. In those years, the Bay cars journeyed from their western terminus at St. Clair and Lansdowne, east on St. Clair, south on Avenue Road, east on Davenport and then, southward on Bay Street to the ferry docks at Bay and Queen’s Quay.

The excitement of anticipation caused the journey on the streetcar to be akin to a trans-continental trip. However, after travelling southward through the Bay Street canyon, we finally arrived at the ferry terminal, on the south side of Queen’s Quay, at the foot of Bay Street. My dad referred to as “the new terminal,” as it had been built between the years 1926 and 1927. This was only a few years after he had arrived in the city as a young immigrant in 1921.

As a boy, this was the only terminal that I knew; it remained in service until 1972, when it was demolished. The present-day facility, the Toronto Island Ferry Docks, was built in 1973, and was renamed the Jack Layton Terminal in 2013. In 2015, it was announced that a more modern terminal is to replace it.

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This photograph of the terminal was taken in 1927, shortly after it opened at the foot of Bay Street. This is the terminal I knew as a boy.

In the 1940s, the ferries that carried passengers across the harbour were the Bluebell (launched in 1906), Trillium (1910), the William Inglis (1935) and the Sam McBride (1939). They were all double-decked, double-ended boats. My favourite was the Trillium, as my father always took my brother and me below deck, where it was possible to view the enormous pistons that powered the side-paddles that propelled the boat across the waters of the bay. The sheer size and hissing noise of the pistons were amazing and fascinating. Thankfully, the Trillium still exists today and is available for special harbour excursions.

The only terrifying incident I experienced on a ferry was aboard the Bluebell. My uncle George was the captain in the 1940s, and on one occasion, he invited us to climb up to the wheel-house on the top deck. The only problem was that to reach it, I needed to ascend an iron ladder attached to the side of the boat. While on the ladder, I was virtually hanging in space, the waters of the harbour threateningly swirling below me. Reaching the top, I enjoyed the view from the windows of the wheel-house, but descending the ladder was even more frightening than the witch in the glass booth in the ferry terminal.

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The Bluebell in the 1940s, when my Uncle George Brown, was the captain of the ferry. Toronto Public Library, 9646-40.

After crossing the harbour and arriving on Centre Island, we walked along a cement pathway that remains in existence today. On either side of it were expansive picnic grounds and a large pavilion with many tables. Under it, picnickers could find shelter from the sun on scorching hot days or from thunderstorms on rainy afternoons. Eventually, we reached the Venetian-style bridge that crossed over Long Pond, one of the many lagoons on the islands. On the south side of the bridge was Manitou Road, the main drag of the village on Centre Island. It was a relatively short in length, about equal in distance to King Street, between Spadina Avenue and Bathurst Street. However, its size did not detract from its importance.

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The Venetian-style bridge over Long Pond in 1900. View gazes south. Toronto Archives,  Fonds 1568, Item 0433. 

After crossing the bridge, at the north end of Manitou Road, beside the lagoon, there was a boathouse that rented canoes by the hour or day. Paddling the quiet waters of the islands had been popular since the 19th century. However, my eyes were not drawn to the canoe-rental shop, but to the food stands on Manitou Road. I longed to feast on the popcorn, candy apples, hot buttered corn (in August), candy floss, and hot dogs. A boy my age was in reality a bag of skin stretched over an appetite.

The food kiosks were not the only places to satisfy one’s hunger. Lining the street were restaurants, where the sounds of the music from the juke boxes drifted on the summer air, their appeal more enjoyable due to the cooling breezes from the lake. “A nickel in the slot” gave a person access to the swinging dance tunes of the decade, such as those of Glenn Miller’s band, which was highly popular during the war years. The candy shop, ice cream parlour, and bakery were mouth-watering, but I ignored the bank, book store, dance halls, open-air dance floor, tea rooms, and drug store. Manitou Road was a complete village contained within a single roadway, since it also possessed a Dominion Bank, laundry, dairy, and butcher shop.

Lining the street were hotels and Victorian or Edwardian wood-frame houses that rented rooms. I heard my my dad tell my mother that the rooms were expensive, so it was not uncommon for two to four young people to share a room. He said that teenagers and young adults ignored the inconveniences of crowded rooms to be close to the action on Manitou Road, where they could “whoop-it-up” and misbehave, as they were beyond the prying eyes of their parents and neighbours across the harbour in the city.

My mother’s eye-brows rose slightly when my dad informed her that the partying on Manitou Road continued until the midnight hour. He told her that it was a regular occurrence, especially on Friday and Saturdays, or if there were a hot spell that drove Torontonians to escape the heat and humidity on the mainland. As my dad informed my mother about the behaviour of the summer visitors on Manitou Road, I wondered how he knew about such things. Today, I wonder if my mother was thinking the same thing. I won’t relate my mother’s reaction when my dad confessed that when he was younger, he had been in Price’s Casino on Manitou Road.

The side-streets east and west of the main drag mostly had wooden plank sidewalks, shaded by mature trees, many of them ancient willows. These avenues were flanked by rows of wood-frame houses with small gardens. Most of them displayed perennials, as bringing annuals over from the city was inconvenient and laborious. Plants such as hollyhocks, which seeded themselves, as well as blue delphiniums were also popular.

Since no cars were allowed on the islands, residents walked or travelled by bicycle. Adding to the number of bicycles were the rental shops where day-trippers could lease them by the hour or day. Other activities included tennis, bowling, canoeing, and badminton. At the south end of Manitou Road were the cool waters of Lake Ontario. Beside it was the avenue simply named the Lakeshore, a long stretch of roadway that paralleled the Lake. Following it to the west led to Hanlan’s Point, and to the east, Ward’s Island. Some of the finest homes on the islands were on the Lakeshore, facing the water. Many prominent Toronto families maintained summer homes on Centre Island, including the Gooderham’s and the Massey’s. These two families were also instrumental in creating the Royal Canadian Yacht Club (YCYC) on Centre Island.

On the west side of the intersection of Manitou Road and the Lakeshore was one of the most popular beaches on the islands. The long stretch of golden sand was crowded, even when the water was cold, beginning in the morning hours and remaining until about 5:30 pm. After that hour, the crowds thinned out as young people departed for the restaurants, soda fountains, and tea shops on Manitou Road. When darkness descended, they would cruise the dance halls, the strings of coloured lights over Manitou Road adding to the party atmosphere. At the end of the evening, unless people were residents, they joined the stampede to catch the last ferry departing for the mainland.

During the 1940s, on most summer days the ferries were crowded to capacity. On August 11, 1944, during a heat wave, they transported 30,000 people across the harbour. In this decade, unless July and August were exceptionally cool or rainy, the ferries carried about a million passengers annually. Most of them were day-trippers. During the summer months, the number of residents living on the islands swelled to about 12,000, though some remained after the warm weather ended. Centre Island was a place that provided entertainment for all ages, with quiet spots for family picnics, lazy lagoons for canoeing, and dance halls and restaurants for younger adults.  

However, in 1956, the writing was on the wall. The Centre Island that I knew as a boy was to disappear. The city transferred the responsibility for the islands to the Municipality of Metro Toronto. The official plan was to demolish the permanent buildings and turn the islands into parkland to be shared by everyone, not the privileged few. However, it was mostly the less affluent residents who lost their homes on the islands. No attempt was made to open the grounds of the Royal Canadian Yacht Club to the public. It retains its exclusivity to this very day.

Removing the homes on the islands commenced one of the longest legal battles in the history of the city, as residents fought to maintain their homes. The city was not completely successful in their quest, but the demolition of the homes and the businesses on Manitou Road commenced in the 1960s. I was in my late-teens at this time and remember the reports in the newspapers about the destruction. It was not long before the main drag was razed and the places to “whoop-it-up” were gone forever.

Today, few traces remain of the Centre Island that once existed. However, if a person strolls along the boardwalk that parallels the lake, from Centre Island to Ward’s Island, among the bushes, wild undergrowth and trees, it is possible to view a few surviving cement and stone foundations of the old houses that faced the Lake. Remains of a garden wall or a few steps leading to a doorway can still be seen if one looks carefully. In a few places, there are clumps of perennials that have survived for over six decades, the remains of the quaint gardens that once grew beside the houses that were the summer homes of Toronto residents of yesteryear. These flowers, purchased on the mainland, are now the only living landmarks of a vibrant village life that has disappeared.

The 1960s was an decade when more than just Centre lsland was destroyed. A large number of homes along the Lakeshore Road on the mainland were seized, bulldozed, and paved over to build the Gardiner Expressway. The Sunnyside Amusement Park also disappeared to allow this project to proceed. Within the downtown core, dozens of heritage building, Georgian-style row houses, fine mansions, 1920s-Art Deco skyscrapers, theatres, and government buildings were razed. 

Saving the past has never been easy, but the 1960s actively encouraged it. Those who fought against it were labelled as “crackpots” and the enemies of progress.

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/tayloronhistory-comcheck-it-out/

Books by the Blog’s Author

Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories by the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

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   To place an order for this book, published by History Press:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

Book also available in most book stores such as Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox and AGO Book Shop. It can also be ordered by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

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Another book on theatres, published by Dundurn Press, is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It explores 81 theatres and contains over 125 archival photographs, with interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating histories. Note: an article on this book was published in Toronto Life Magazine, October 2016 issue.

For a link to the article published by Toronto Life Magazine: torontolife.com/…/photos-old-cinemas-dougtaylortoronto-local-movie-theatres-of-y…

The book is available at local book stores throughout Toronto or for a link to order this book: https://www.dundurn.com/books/Torontos-Local-Movie-Theatres-Yesteryear

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. It contains archival and modern photos that allow readers to compare scenes and discover how they have changed over the decades. 

Note: a review of this book was published in Spacing Magazine, October 2016. For a link to this review:

spacing.ca/toronto/2016/09/02/reading-list-toronto-then-and-now/

For further information on ordering this book, follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or contact the publisher directly by the link below:

http://www.ipgbook.com/toronto–then-and-now—products-9781910904077.php?page_id=21

 

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